When to buy, when to fly

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They are the two things all travellers want to know: how far in advance should you book your flights, and when exactly should you travel? Here at Cheapflights, we’ve been crunching the data (over 10 billion lines of it, in fact), to help answer those very questions. So scroll down for guidance on when to buy and when to fly to some of the world’s most popular destinations, then head on over to Cheapflights.co.uk to start searching for those bargain flights.

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Wherever you decide to jet off to, here are a couple of money-saving tips to bear in mind…

  • Book your annual leave between 28th November and 4th December: This is the cheapest week to fly to the widest range of destinations, including Barbados, Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy. Those dates not working for you? Other “cheap weeks” include 24th-30th October, 7th-13th November, 14th-20th November, 21st-27th November and 5th-11th December.
  • Rethink your family holiday dates: The first week of the English school summer holidays (25th-31st July) is the priciest week to fly to the most popular destinations, followed closely by the pre-Christmas week (18th-25th December).

Just so you know, this data is based on averages from departure points across the UK and is intended as a guideline only. Once you have a rough idea of when to buy and when to fly, check the latest up-to-date prices at Cheapflights.co.uk.

Long Haul

New Zealand
Barbados
Australia
Mexico
Cuba
Jamaica
Canada
South Africa
Singapore
Thailand
Hong Kong
New York
Dubai

Short Haul
Cyprus
Greece
Portugal
Switzerland
Spain
Italy
Sweden
Croatia
France
Netherlands

New Zealand

New Zealand

Choosing to jet off towards the tail-end of summer could save you up to £747 on flights, with the average return fare being £475. Compare this to the 11th – 17th January, when return airfares of an eye-watering £1,222.

When to buy: 25 days in advance

When to fly:  29th August – 4th September

Barbados

Barbados

You’ll save £555 by flying 28th November – 4th December, versus 25th – 31st July. Looking elsewhere in the Caribbean? March is the month to go. Prices are almost a third (£515) of their peak December price (£1,335).

When to buy: 19 days in advance

When to fly: 28th November – 4th December

Australia

Australia

Flying to Australia in the first week of June will save travellers up to £485 compared to the second last week in July. However, Sydney sees great savings in May. With average flight prices of £593, holidaymakers will save more than £700 versus flying in December (£1,302).

When to buy: 14 days in advance

When to fly: 30th May – 5th June

Mexico

Mexico

With the cheapest time to book being just 10 days in advance, Mexico is the best long haul destination to grab a last minute bargain. Plus, swap summer for late autumn and see savings of up to £475. However, those going to Cancun should consider January. At £450, holidaymakers can save more than £200, versus visiting the winter-sun favourite in December (£654).

When to buy: 10 days in advance

When to fly: 31st October – 6th November

Cuba

Cuba

1st – 7th August is the most expensive time to fly to Cuba, with prices averaging £867. Flying at the start of December could see savings of £363.

When to buy: 58 days in advance

When to fly: 5th – 11th December

Jamaica

Jamaica

You could save up to £362 by flying to Jamaica in October instead of July.

When to buy: 23 days in advance

When to fly: 24th – 30th October

Canada

Canada

Visiting Canada in the summer could cost you an extra £351 compared to the end of November where return prices average £346.

When to buy: 130 days in advance

When to fly: 21st – 27th November

South Africa

South Africa

A trip to South Africa involves the most forward-planning compared to other long haul destinations on this list. Travellers will see savings if booking roughly five months in advance. Swap the second last week in December for the second week in November and see savings of up to £343.

When to buy: 150 days in advance

When to fly: 7th – 13th November

Singapore

Singapore

A £337 saving can be made by swapping 19th – 25th December for 21st – 27th November where average prices are just £372.

When to buy: 18 days in advance

When to fly: 21st – 27th November

Thailand

Thailand

Thailand may not be the place to book a last minute getaway, with the cheapest time to book being 4 months in advance. This gives you time to book for 14th – 20th November, when flights will average just £361.

When to buy: 120 days in advance

When to fly: 14th – 20th November

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Visiting in July averages £677. Swap to the second week in November, and save around £331.

When to buy: 21 days in advance

When to fly: 21st – 27th November

New York

New York

The best time to book a trip to New York is a month in advance. Swap summer for winter and see savings of £283.

When to buy: 30 days in advance

When to fly: 7th – 13th November

Dubai

Dubai

You’ll save £206 by swapping 19th – 25th December for 14th – 20th November.

When to buy: 138 days in advance

When to fly: 14th – 20th November

Cyprus

Cyprus

The end of July sees the highest prices for Cyprus. Switch to January and you could save up to £198.

When to buy: 102 days in advance

When to fly: 18th – 24th January

Greece

Greece

A winter sun break could save you £177 compare to visiting in the summer.

When to buy: 125 days in advance

When to fly: 28th November – 4th December

Portugal

Portugal

With Portugal, it pays to book in advance – you could save by planning up to 5 months ahead. Plus, choose 28th November – 4th December instead of 19th – 25th December and save up to £159.

When to buy: 152 days in advance

When to fly: 28th November – 4th December

Switzerland

Switzerland

Hold out on booking for May when flights are £188 and go in October where you’ll see savings of £139.

When to buy: 30 days in advance

When to fly: 24th – 30th October

Spain

Barcelona

The end of March is perhaps surprisingly the most pricey time to see Spain, where return flights average £216. Save £134 by visiting in early winter.

When to buy: 46 days in advance

When to fly: 28th November – 4th December

Italy

Italy

By flying out on the 28th November, rather than 19th December, you could see savings of £127. If you are heading to the capital, June sees average prices of £84, whereas November could cost you up to £180.

When to buy: 176 days in advance

When to fly: 28th November – 4th December

Sweden

Sweden

Winter proves to be the most cost-effective way to see Sweden with flights averaging £87 compared to £203 in July.

When to buy: 56 days in advance

When to fly: 18th – 24th January

Croatia

Croatia

You’ll save up to £112 by switching from March for October.

When to buy: 54 days in advance

When to fly: 10th – 16th October

France

France

The beginning of December is the best time to visit France, with average return fares of £90. At the start of June, prices rise to £168.

When to buy: 163 days in advance

When to fly: 5th – 11th December

The Netherlands

The Netherlands

The Netherlands has the lowest price fluctuations on this list. 21st March is the priciest time to fly out, yet it’s just £51 more than flying during the cheapest week (11th January).

When to buy: 169 days in advance

When to fly: 11th – 17th January

When to buy, when to fly was last modified: February 22nd, 2017 by Kirsten McCroskrie
Author: Kirsten McCroskrie (33 posts)

Scottish-born London dweller who uses any chance she gets to chase the sunshine. Most at home when sipping cocktails by the sea, but will always happily settle for a double-shot cappuccino in an inner-city hipster café...